Based on the theoretical analysis of the works of American researchers the origins and modernity of organization of students’ independent work in higher educational institutions in the USA are outlined. The article deals with the evolution of the meaning of "independent work" in the light of its development, describes the conditions under which it was formed, explores the ways of implementing it into learning activities of students. It is revealed that the origin of the ideas of independent work in American higher education system took place in the context of work with gifted students at the beginning of the XX century with introduction of honors programs in curricula of the universities. In 1950-s and 1960-s honors programs have undergone qualitative changes and spread in large public universities. They became separate organizational units that combined both general education and training for gifted students. The article describes the history of implementing of Independent Study Plan and Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction. The introduction of all these curricular innovations led to changes in the ways of organization of independent work of the students. The last few decades have produced a vast expansion in the amount of independent work in American colleges and universities and the curricular have become increasingly intense and demanding. In the XXI century independent work for gifted students was transformed in the main method of preparation of students to self education.
Keywords: organization of independent work, honors programs, higher educational institutions of the USA, self-study programs, students